After a full day of argument and discussion, the Kern County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved a three-year contract extension with Dominion Voting Systems to provide voting machines for the county’s elections.
The extension was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Phillip Peters and David Couch casting the opposition votes.
The backstory: Dominion Voting Systems has been the target of various election fraud accusations dating back to the 2020 election.
- Last November’s election added more fuel to the fire when Kern County’s lone ballot counting machine broke, significantly lengthening the vote-counting process.
- Kern County first signed a contract with Dominion Voting Systems in 2016.
The big picture: The extension, which was approved Tuesday, was retroactively approved from Dec. 31, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2025 and will send $224,316 annually to Dominion Voting Systems.
Driving the news: Dozens of people showed up at the meeting to speak out against the extension, in part driven by the Taft Republican Assembly, whose president, Vince Maiocco, told members to pack the chamber in opposition.
- “Ironically with huge public outcry over the past couple of months, the elections office is now requesting a three-year contract renewal,” Maiocco told the board. “This sounds like an orchestrated maneuver to shut us ‘election deniers’ up for three years.”
What they’re saying: Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Aimee Espinoza told the board that the election fraud accusations are unproven and replacing Dominion Voting Systems would be a waste of taxpayer money.
- The discussion shifted to counting each vote by hand, something Espinoza said would take over 100,000 hours and would have cost taxpayers $1.9 million.
- “And that doesn’t include the time for signature verification. It does not include the time for sorting, for extracting, any reconciliations or the reporting that we would have to do,” Espinoza said. “How do I, as the registrar of voters, certify results that I would not have confidence in?”